Honors | Introduction to Writing and the Study of Literature
L142 | 1852 | Kintgen, E


THIS IS AN AUTHORIZED CLASS
YOU MUST OBTAIN AUTHORIZATION FROM
THE HONORS DIVISION

This section is open to Honors Freshmen and Sophomores only

1:00-2:15p MW BH 246

Can Computers Think?

>From HAL, the computer in the movie 2001, to Deep Blue, which beat world
champion Garry Kasparov in a six-game match in the spring of 1997, we are
surrounded by images of computers--either fictional or real--that can do
amazing things. But can they think? As soon as we ask this question, we find
ourselves in a tangle of questions at least as much about human thought as
about computers. What is thinking? Does it require problem solving? Memory?
Emotion? Consciousness? Intention? Physical sensation? Is it something minds
do, or brains? How could we tell whether something else--human or computer--
is actually thinking? This section of L142 will explore these questions.

Roughly half the readings will be articles relating to these questions by
scientists and philosophers, including Alan Turing, John Searle, Douglas
Hofstadter, Roger Schank, Hubert Dreyfus, and others. The other half will be
novels on the same topic, including (depending on availability) Warwick
Collins, Comnputer One; Astro Teller, Exegesis (a novel composed of email
messages); Robert Sawyer, The Terminal Experiment; and Richard Powers,
Galatea 2.2. There will be four papers and a final project.